Unemployment is taking centre stage in Bihar elections; 2 in 3 people in state don’t have a job

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October 29, 2020 12:40 PM

The employment rate in Bihar was 33.8 per cent in September 2020, which means that only one in three adult Biharis is employed.

bihar elections, unemployment in bihar, employment, labour force, workforce, jobsOver the decades, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have been the major out-migration states.

While the issue of unemployment has taken centre stage in almost all the corners of the country, Bihar has a worse story to tell. Being among the poorest states in India, Bihar is struggling with an unemployment rate which is double the national average. After the lockdown brought high-scale economic disturbances during April and May, the unemployment rate in Bihar shot up to 46 per cent, while the all-India unemployment rate in the same period was 24 per cent, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). With a gradual easing in restrictions,  the unemployment rate in Bihar dropped to 12 per cent, but, even this is much higher than the all-India estimate of 6.7 per cent at the same time. 

The employment rate in Bihar was 33.8 per cent in September 2020, which means that only one in three adult Biharis is employed. In the preceding three months, the employment rate averaged worse at a mere 30 per cent. 

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The woes of the migrant workers were visible throughout the country, however, Bihar had faced a stronger hit as it hosts a comparatively larger number of such workers. Over the decades, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have been the major out-migration states, RBI said in its latest report. Even going forward, the loss of employment could be significant for some of the low-investment states like Bihar, which had seen a large chunk of migration for overseas employment in recent years, the RBI report added. 

Unemployment has been rising in Bihar steadily. Surprisingly, it has been rising at a faster rate than the all-India average, mostly since 2018. In 2016 and in 2017, the unemployment rate in Bihar was lower than the all-India average. It is thus evident why the issue of unemployment has taken centre stage in Bihar elections. While the opposition has pledged to provide 10 lakh additional jobs in Bihar, it is more important to clarify the nature of jobs more than the quantum of jobs, CMIE added. Further, a one-time bonus of a million jobs or even two million doesn’t seem adequate, given the state of unemployment and the misery it entangles.

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